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To The Summit
Van - Dogubayazit
Day 1 - Towards 3200m
Day 2 - Acclimatization
Day 3 - Towards 4200m
Day 4 - Summit Day
Issues & Thoughts

Van - Dogubayazit

22 August 2005. The internal Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul to Van is about 2 hours. My feelings through out the flight are mixed. I have a fear, but I am also excited. I can't believe that after so many years of hearing many stories about Van, I will finally land there. This is the town where my family comes from. The view from the airplane is breath taking. It's very dry and I can't see a single green spot. Suddenly Lake Van appears. It's huge and as big as a sea. We Armenians also call it Van Sea (Vana Tzov). Now I understand why. This lake is about 3 times the size of Lake Geneva.


11:00 AM. One of the guides, Gioxu, was at the airport waiting for our arrival. There were two transport vans waiting there and we start loading our bags on top of the vans. The guide also collected our passports, in order to show all our proper identifications at the numerous military check points. We get split in two teams and we get in the vans. The cars do not look in good condition. At least for European standards. At 11:00 AM we start our journey towards Dogubayazit. The atmosphere in the car is good. We joke and we laugh while observing our surroundings. We are also a bit concerned about the check points. After all we are three Armenians in the car and clearly we are not considered very welcome.


Our joy gradually dissipates. The journey to Ararat seems endless. We are driving for more than one hour and we are still next to Lake Van. The roads are in bad condition even though at some points you notice that there is construction going on. We take a comfort break next to the lake. Almost every one needs it. We are having discussions in the car about drinking water and the food that we should eat while on Mountain Ararat. We do not trust the food and water that the locals will give us, especially after hearing that the previous teams had diarrhoea issues. We take the decision to buy our own water and only eat rice and pasta.


1:00 PM. After two hours of driving we reach a small oasis, the only place where we saw some trees and green. There was a beautiful water fall. It's not a big one and it's not something special compared to other waterfalls around the world. But in this part of the world it is the only nice thing. There is a restaurant right opposite the waterfall and we are having lunch, fish from the lake. Gioxu wants us to write some information about ourselves. Name, father's name, occupation, blood type, address, etc... At that point I told him that I am Armenian. I remember his reply. "Are you Armenian? Knouni is an Armenian last name?" Of course I replied. After that short discussion I think that I had his full attention. Not necessarily in a bad way.


The road still seems endless. We are quite in the car. After the small oasis the landscape changed. Petrified lava to our left, more lava to our right. The scene is dramatic. Thousands of years ago the earth got furious here, and volcanoes started erupting. The land was probably burning for months. There are a few villages that we are passing by. They are mainly made up by a few mud houses and tents.


3:30 PM. Ararat is starting to make it's appearance. Its massive shape is clear even through the hazy weather. We are about 40 min away from Dogubayazit. We stop at a petrol station right outside the small town. It has taken us 4 hours to get there. I get out and I look at Mount Ararat. Next to Ararat, Small Ararat (Massis) seems small, even though it has a height of about 4000m. At that point, the feeling that Armenians used to live here got stronger. However, there is no sign left of Armenians around this part of the world. The Turks have made a good job of extinguishing their civilization. Instead it is substituted with the poor Kurdish people. We drive to the center of the village were we decided to buy 12 liters of bottled water for each one. Then we reach the hotel were we rest for the night.

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